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Santa Anita News and Notes (Oct 21)

•    Santa Anita heads into their final week of racing this Friday and the main track has tightened up considerably and hence the times are much faster. Most of the horses can now get a hold of the surface and yet it continues to be safe. Both surfaces continue to play fair for the most part. Field size was better this past week than the week before when they ran for four days, and should be even better for the final three days of the meet. The single ticket jackpot of the pick six went down this past Friday and the payout was $450,707 for the 20 cent wager. The winning ticket was purchased at for the total amount of $307.20. Racing resumes this Friday with the pick six c/o of $86,130 for the single ticket jackpot and will be paid out Sunday, the final day of the meet.

•   They ran two graded stakes over the weekend and both were good races. On Saturday, Warren’s Showtime got the money in the Grade 3 Autumn Miss stakes at a mile on the turf and gave trainer Craig Lewis his 1000th career victory. The solid 3/5 favorite looked like she was in hot water at the 1/8 pole under leading rider Flavien Prat, yet she still found a way to get up in the final jumps and secure her first graded stakes win after winning a number of state bred stakes races. She only won by a head over Going to Vegas, who ran too good to lose at 14/1 and made our HTW list in the process. “Showtime” now has a record of six wins and five thirds from 13 career starts and has earned $520,251. She will continue to race next year and will be looking at a stakes at Del Mar for her next start. On Sunday they ran the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at 9 furlongs on the grass for 3 year olds and 9 talented sophomores went to the post. The winner got hammered very late in the wagering and went from 2/1 to 6/5 as the horses were loading, that being Smooth Like Strait, who stalked the pace setter, longshot Dominant Soul down the back side, went to the lead on his own at the ¼ pole and then had plenty left to hold off the late runners to win by a length and a half. The winner is now for two for two with Rispoli up and has learned to be more patient and rate kindly in the early going. Next stop will be the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at 9 furlongs on the grass at Del Mar Nov. 28. Scarto ran a good second in this race for trainer Mike Puype and Rispoli had been his regular rider. And he was ¾ of a length in front of the eastern invader, Field Pass, who was the second choice in the wagering and went off at 3/1.

•    They have three stakes lined up this weekend with the Grade 3 Ken Maddy stakes on Saturday, a five and a half furlong dash on the turf for older fillies and mares. Another good Mark Glatt claim, Magic at Midnight, heads up that field, and this filly is undefeated in five starts to the post. The Ken Maddy is named for the former California state Senator who had a passion for racing. On Sunday, closing day, along with the mandatory pick six payout, the signature stakes is the Grade 2 Goldikova, named for the only three time winner of the Breeders Cup Mile. This race is for older fillies and mares at a mile on the turf and Maxim Rate and Lady Prancealot head up this field. Also on Sunday will be the ungraded Lure stakes for older runners at a mile on the turf and they had 18 nominations for this race and Glatt has three of them, Sharp Samurai, Tartini, and Zestful. The former would be a short price if he runs, as he is a multiple graded stakes winner, though he hasn’t won in quite some time.

•   Going into the final week of racing at Santa Anita, it’s a two man battle for the riding title as Flavien Prat is 3 up on Juan Hernandez, 22 to 19. Umberto Rispoli is a distant third with 11 victories. Prat has far and away the best winning percentage of 30% of any riders in the top 15. Peter Miller was cruising along with a 3 win lead over Doug O’Neill going into Sunday for the training title, but that all changed very quickly when Bob Baffert won four on the day. Now Miller is still in front with 10 wins, but only one in front of Baffert, and O’Neill is third with 7 wins. Baffert has the best win percentage of any trainers in the top 15 at 31%. Although Abel Cedillo did win two on Sunday, his riding has fallen off quite a bit recently, as he seems to be making poor decisions in races, and not finishing like he did earlier this year. Of course, the new whip rules may have a lot to do with it as most of the riders utterly detest the non use of the whip in races.

•   Speaking of the new whip rules which are now in place in California, jockey Mike Smith, who is the co-chair of the Jockeys’ Guild, wrote quite a long letter to the California Horse Racing Board criticizing the use of the riding crop. The new rules which state that a rider is limited to just six strikes of the horse in a race, and only twice in succession, is extremely hazardous and unsafe for both the rider and the horse. He also stated that in many cases it is affecting the outcome of the races as riders are unable to maximize the placing of the horses. The ruling went into effect on October 1st and not a single rider was even consulted, and yet they are the ones that risk their lives every time they mount up on these 1200 pound animals. There was nothing wrong with the ruling that was in place and there were no cuts or welts on the horses to begin with. The CHRB in this state is a spineless bunch, who know nothing about racing and spend most of their time listening to the lip service of the animal rights groups, who want nothing more than to shut down racing in this state and then eventually throughout the country. I applaud Mike Smith for writing the letter but I think he is wasting his time. I doubt if they will even offer a response.                  

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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